Tell, Teach, Involve
Training and Learning Techniques for Emergency Notification and Incident Notification Personnel
“Tell me and I forget, teach me, and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
In a critical situation, are your employees ready? When the stakes are high, will workers be able to send emergency alerts?
Teaching employees about an emergency notification system is one area that I hold close to my heart. If the staff is unsure how to use the system, your ability to send notifications in a crisis is at risk.
For example, at one college institution, a test message was sent without a clear indication that it was a test. Many people were upset that they were notified without clearly understanding it was a test. Many people were angry that they weren’t notified – if it had been an active shooter emergency, they could have been in danger.
It is vital to give your staff the opportunity to test an emergency notification system so they can become more comfortable with it. On-site, instructor-led courses, blended learning with online training, and a learning management system are viable training vehicles. I personally like the ability of an LMS to deliver content around the clock, at any location, and at the learner’s pace.
In addition, adding quizzes and management reports to monitor competency is valuable. Any of these training methods should be followed by exercises with the ENS.
Why are initial small-scale tests beneficial?
Start by planning small, specific tests of ENS features and scenarios. This facilitates a walkthrough of the functionality that was purchased. It also isolates the early errors to a very small group of test contacts.
Monitor and document where problems occurred. What functionality failed? What messages were confusing or incorrect? Was the staff confused or unable to perform the required actions at any point? The intent is to clean up as many issues as possible before running the more extensive and expensive full-system exercise.
Conduct an awareness campaign with key stakeholders that details what will happen, what is expected of them, why you are testing, when it will occur, and what results should be expected. A feedback form may also be used to collect participant feedback.
In addition, during the small tests, define your broadcast settings and fine-tune them based on your results. How many cycles of notifications will make up your test? How much time should lapse between broadcasts? What are the most popular contact paths? Is the order in which people are contacted most effective? Devote the necessary time and resources to evaluate all key questions relating to your emergency notification system.
Modify the system based on after action reporting
After action reporting is crucial. Collecting input from managers, employees, and recipients is important to help prevent problems during a real crisis.
Collect and review after action reports. Are there common themes or problems, critical areas requiring further training, etc.? Hopefully, you’ll be able to identify system trends and modify the system to improve your performance.
It is also critical to get information from recipients who did not confirm the message. Did respondents get the message? Were you able to reach their secondary contact paths? These are just some of the questions you should consider.
Train employees on your emergency notification system to ensure that they know how to respond in a critical situation.